Aijaz Hussain in Srinagar

From The Washington Times, “Kashmiris use Facebook, YouTube in Struggle

“Before hitting the streets, Ahmed reaches for his two essential protest tools: a scarf to mask his face and a cell-phone camera to show the world what is happening. The 23-year-old, who posts videos to YouTube under names such as “oppressedkashimir1,” is part of a wave of Web-savvy protesters in Indian-controlled Kashmir who have begun using social networking to publicize their fight and keep fellow demonstrators energized and focused.

“[I am] an anonymous soldier of Kashmir’s resistance movement, using Facebook and YouTube to fight India,” Ahmed said, showing off his most recent work, a montage of protest videos and photos set to London-based Sami Yousuf’s popular song, “Try Not to Cry, Little One.” Like other protesters, he declined to give his full name for fear of arrest.”

“Social-networking sites, though presumably under Indian surveillance, have proven to be more effective than any previous form of political communication in Kashmir, said Shuddabrata Sengupta, a New Delhi-based writer who follows new-media issues in India.

‘The struggle on the streets and in the corners of cyberspace have a mutually complementary nature,’ he said.”

“‘They’re shaping the political discourse and raising the bar for pro-independence political groups in Kashmir and authorities in New Delhi,’ said Sheik Showkat Hussain, a law professor at the University of Kashmir.

Marketing and information technology experts estimate at least 40,000 Kashmir residents are on Facebook. The page for “Bekaar Jamaath,” or the Idle Group, amassed about 12,000 members in four months before being hacked, removed and re-established recently.”

“‘Because of this video evidence that cannot be denied, some people outside Kashmir have started believing the horrors we have been living under,” said Rayees, a young protester who uploaded a clip to Facebook showing paramilitary forces hurling stones and smashing the windows of homes in a Srinagar neighborhood.”


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